We live in an uncertain world, like our ancestors before us, but we are bombarded with devasting news more than ever. I mean, cavemen and cavewomen did not know what drama was happening with the Vikings, nor did the Vikings know what Native American’s were up to. (Yes, I know that is not historically accurate, play along please).
With the development of technology and new forms of media, something is always scrolling across the computer screen, interrupting a show, binging on smartwatches; ultimately creating a world of stressed humans. Some generations are becoming numb from tragic natural and manmade events. (For more on this, please read one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Sellers, and her thoughts on this subject).
How do you define devastation? Is it the recent hurricanes that ravaged Texas, Flordia, and the Caribbean? A loved one suffering? Women and men coming forward about sexual harassment in the workplace? Deception from someone you thought you could trust? Terrorists? Hate crimes? The Opioid Crisis? Our government? Mass shootings? Disease? A fight with a lover? A country threatening nuclear war? Whatever YOUR devastation is, whatever complexity you need to overcome each day, here are some of my thoughts on how to conquer some of those demons.
Acknowledge It. Pain, frustration, sadness, anger. They are all real, raw emotions. Allow yourself to feel them, identify them, and ultimately remind yourself, they are just feelings. (And sometimes I need a stern suggestion to feel these and to not distract myself by making to-do lists or work…or be called on my mind over matter bullshit straight out over the phone) Cry. Run. Punch a pillow. Scream into the woods. Listen to sad music (might I suggest Linkin Park’s “One More Light?”). Then, tell yourself over and over, until you believe it, that frustration will not help, no matter what the situation.
Talk About It. That same technology that informs of every scary and terrible thing in the world – use it for good. Facetime your friends who cannot come and hug you. Text your loved ones. Call family and friends. Find a chat room related to the subject and let your hands rip on the keyboard. Call and see a therapist or psychiatrist (or both), if the event or situation has you feeling broken. Talk about the situation and your feelings. Do not let them bottle up. I tend to use dry, sarcastic humor the most when I begin to open up about things, but as my tribe listens, I shed those tears and allow my vulnerabilities to be exposed, shared, and listened to. Talk to your support, your tribe, your squad!
Ask For Help. Do not be proud. It is amazing what humans can do for one another. It may be moving someone’s belongings, it could be raising money for a charity, or even just visits to check in on you. Think about what you need and never hesitate to ask.
Treat Yourself. It does feel good to indulge when you feel so down. Now, be careful to not allow this to become your new mantra — but an ice cream sundae, buying a pair of new shoes, letting others set up meals for you, etc. can help temporarily.
Focus on What You Can Do. Just like the men and women who may be helping you, think about what you can do to stop, prevent, provide aid to whatever may be upsetting you. It is simple and helpful to donate money (no matter the amount) to a reputable non-profit during times a crisis. If someone you know is suffering, think about how to get them help. Can you start a drive to provide necessities to humans in need? Sit and think about your situation. Do you want to start a campaign for awareness about a disease that took your loved one? Can you join groups that support you and what you are going through? When you are ready, take the time to think and focus on what you can do. As you delve into that project, allow yourself to feel emotions, let yourself breathe deep, and be proud that you are helping not only yourself but others.
Learn. In recent years, when I worked for a non-profit that worked on radical transparency, many times we were asked what did we learn (after events, if we made a mistake, at the end of a meeting). Hands down, this is THE best lesson I have applied to my life, during great moments and during times of pain. As you travel down the path of devastation, you must ask yourself, “what is this moment teaching me?” “what did I take away from this experience?” “how did this help me grow?” It will NOT be the first day you feel ruined, it will not be during the first week as you grieve, be filled with anger, or shake in fear. When you are ready and further away from the moment, question yourself. Talk with other people involved if you can and ask them. Life is a journey and we learn many lessons along the way. Taking away a lesson from something horrible is constructive and teaches you more about life.
Pain, anger, devastation, it cannot be stopped. But, the way you cope can change how you heal from agony.
How do you help yourself in times of devastation?
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